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Wizards – Raptors Game 2: What To Watch

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[Dave Sandford/NBAE/Getty Images]

Washington at Toronto

Eastern Conference First Round Game 2 (Wizards lead series 1-0)
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON
April 21, 2015 at 8:00 PM
TV: CSNWashington, ESPN
Radio: 99.1FM


What to watch:

A pissed off Raptors team.

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Face it, Kyle Lowry is pissed about Bradley Beal’s goodbye wave after he fouled out. Raptors fans are pissed for losing their voices over anti-Pierce chants and cramming a courtyard outside the stadium only to see their nemesis sink them with 20 points. Tyler Hansbrough is ALWAYS pissed. Masai Ujiri is super pissed and probably conducted some weird anti-Paul Pierce cult gathering and openly spewed an expletive-laced tirade on Oakland, Inglewood High School, the entire state of Kansas, Boston, Brooklyn, and Barack Obama. All this justifiably so, because after a season-sweep of the Wizards, the Raptors were dramatically caught off guard by their lackadaisical performance in Game 1, and probably even more disheartened by the fact that they couldn’t overcome a Wizards team that was equally struggling.

So what does this mean for Game 2? Well, it means that the Wizards can by no means portray even a spec of complacency after winning Game 1. The Wizards lucked out on Saturday thanks to the uncommon struggles of Lowry, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, and newly crowned 6th Man of the Year Lou Williams. The four of those guys combined for 15-57 shooting (26%), yet the Raptors were still able to force the game into extra time thanks to the parallel struggles of Bradley Beal and John Wall (more on them below). We mentioned in our series preview that the Raptors have an arsenal of scoring options and they proved that despite their core guys struggling as Amir Johnson, Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez (sans the shimmy) picked up the slack as best as they could off the bench. If their core-4 begins to click, as I fear they will, Game 2 can end up not just being a loss for the Wiz, but if the Wizards don’t promptly counter, it can end up being a complete train wreck that swings all the momentum and confidence back to the Raptors heading into Game 3.

Key match-up:

The #HouseOfGuards vs. their shooting woes

GAME 1 SHOT CHARTS!

John Wall:

Shotchart_1429627359008

Bradley Beal:

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Hmm. Not sure if a basketball shot chart, or a still image of the stained concrete at the Riverlands post-Red Wedding. Seriously, this is no bueno for an uprising backcourt who’s trying to deflect media criticism and the disrespect of defenders. Wall and Beal combined for 3-for-24 on shots outside the paint and a good portion of them were actually high percentage shot attempts. What really turned Wall’s bad shooting night into a shit show was the ISO play Randy Wittman ran for him in the closing seconds of regulation and John’s shot didn’t end up being close. The more John shoots and the more he misses, the less of a chance he’ll have exploiting other facets of his game..like driving because defenses will continue to give him space to shoot while hanging back near the rim, likely fazing him out completely as a scorer. Luckily, John Wall is pretty good at creating offense in other ways than scoring. His eight assists and one turnover were key in Washington’s success.

I mentioned in a previous post that despite Bradley Beal’s immense shooting struggles, I liked how he approached Game 1. I liked his aggression and willingness to take the ball to the rim. I liked his seven 3-point attempts. I liked his acrobatic and-1 and subsequent farewell gesture at Kyle Lowry. I like #PlayoffPanda. My confidence in Beal bouncing back from a bad shooting game on Saturday is gravely wider than it is for Wall, but then again, all we really need is one to dash and the other to splash. Let’s get it.

X-Factor:

The Truth. Just like I called in our series preview, the fruition of Pierce’s acquisition in the postseason was one of the most anticipated things for Wizards fans all season long and he wasted no time giving the crowd what they’ve been yearning for. The trick now is how he’ll follow up his vintage performance. I’m not so crazy about Pierce dropping five 3’s – okay yes I am. I’m not antsy for a crafty old school move and knocking down a contested jumper over his defender – fine. Yes, I want that too. But what I really care for is Pierce’s influence to continue to absorb his teammates and continue to mindfuck his opponents. We got the best of Pierce in Game 1; the scoring and the trolling; both unequivocally imperative to Washington’s success. But how sustainable any of this is remains to be seen, and remains to be a critical factor for the Wizards moving forward in the playoffs.

Fun factor:

More clowning Drake. More clowning Raptors fans. More clowning Greivis Vasquez.

It’s just too easy. And better yet, we’ve got our clowning catalyst in Gilbert Arenas, which is basically the best thing any fan base could ask for. What’s great about this is how highly touted the Raptors fan base is, and deservedly so. Their arena is constantly rocking with loyal fans, plus thousands more of them in a mosh pit called ‘Jurassic Park’ outside.

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They love to blare out their disapproval of an opposing player. It really is commendable. But hey, it’s when they get smacked right back in their mouth after a loss that makes winning in the playoffs that much greater. We’ve yet to catch a glimpse of Drake, although I think I accurately portrayed his reaction to the Game 1 loss here:

Wait a second. Who are THESE two fools!?

Eh. I take back anything positive I said about the Toronto fan base.

One thought on “Wizards – Raptors Game 2: What To Watch

  1. Great write-up! What do you think about the game from a betting perspective? Our pro handicapper Ari Atari likes the Wizards to cover the +5 spread, do you agree? You can read his full analysis at: http://pickadvisor.com/wizards-vs.-raptors-nba-free-pick-2015-04-21-ari-atari/

we are Hoop District

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